Thursday, February 16, 2017

Blues keep rolling with 2-0 shutout win over Detroit

Five straight wins is season-high; Hutton continues to 
shine on road with fourth shutout in six games away from home

DETROIT -- Five and counting for the road-warrior Blues.

When the trip began, it would be split up into four games, come home, then close out Joe Louis Arena one final time.

Who could have imagined the Blues would go 5-for-5 after a 2-0 victory against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night to win their season-best fifth in a row and eighth road game in the past 10 after starting 5-11-1 away from Scottrade Center and have outscored the opposition 25-4 in those eight wins. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ivan Barbashev reacts after scoring to give the Blues a 1-0
in Detroit during a 2-0 victory against the Red Wings. 

And the Blues have won six of seven games since coach Mike Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1 and swept a five-game trip for the first time in franchise history.

Carter Hutton continued his mastery away from home, earning his second straight shutout, his fourth in six road starts after having four career shutouts coming into this season. Hutton now is 5-1-0 his past six road starts with a 1.05 goals-against average and .963 save percentage.

"I don't know; I just stick by my guns like I've been saying all year," Hutton said. "I've been feeling good and I'm just trying to compete. 

"A big credit to our team. They do a great job. I'm not sure how many shots they ended up with, but we didn't really give up a ton of rebounds or any high-quality chances. We shut them down, our PK was good again. ... All-around team game is paying it's dues."

"It's funny, I heard (Hutton) had three (road shutouts) in five, and I said, 'Four in six sounds a lot better not expecting it,'" Yeo said laughing. "I guess what I'll say it five in seven is way better than that. We'll see. But an unbelievable job by him. 

"I think that our guys defended really well, but they threw a lot of pucks at the net from all angles and there was a lot of scrums around the net and I thought he stood realy strong in there."

Hutton stopped 25 shots, including a massive flurry at the end when the Red Wings were pushing for the tying goal before Jaden Schwartz iced it with an empty-netter with 10.3 seconds remaining.

"We kind of expected that," Hutton said. "In between periods, me and Marty (Brodeur) talked about that. It's kind of one of those with a lead on the road and you're trying to have fun. You know they're going to come, they've got a fast team. They're making their push, they need points, but we held on and Schwartzy iced her there with 10 seconds left."

The win for the Blues (30-22-5), who got the game-winner from Ivan Barbashev, pushed them three points ahead of Nashville for third in the Central Division.

So the Blues conclude their visits to the arena they helped the Red Wings open on Dec. 27, 1979 by earning points in six straight visits (5-0-1).

"It felt like there was 12 guys in the crease there," Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson said of the Red Wings' frantic last-minute scramble. "You see the puck bounce out once in a while, but I was just trying to hit it into 'Hutty' to he could cover it up or at least get it to the corner or something.

"... 'Yeosie' kind of switched the system a little bit to kind of support our d-partner a little bit more. That's making us exit the puck a bit easier. So far it's working and hope that things continue."

The Blues scored the first goal of the game for the fifth straight game -- all on this road trip -- when Barbashev's second NHL goal gave them a 1-0 lead 2 minutes, 6 seconds into the game.

Barbashev got a puck from Kenny Agostino, who won a battle behind the Detroit goal from Niklas Kronwall, then Barbashev skated around the corner into the left faceoff circle, uncontested, and snapped a shot past Mrazek short side for his second goal in four games.

"I remembet the forecheck, and Kenny Agostino did a great job to get the puck on my side," Barbashev said. "The first couple seconds, I was kind of protecting the puck. I just kind of looked around and as soon as I saw no one, I was just like, 'Wow, I'm just going to take a shot.'"

The Blues peppered Mrazek with 16 shots in the second period, outshooting Detroit 16-4, but the Red Wings netminder was up to the task, including thwarting Barbashev with a glove save from in tight.

And in the third period when the Blues needed to tighten the screws again, they did so with another zero.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton (left) watches the play with Red Wings forward
Justin Abdelkader in front. Hutton made 25 saves in a 2-0 victory.

"The goalies are obviously playing outstanding and us defensemen, we're just trying to make sure they can see the puck and keep their forwards out of their way," Edmundson said. "If they can see it, they're going to stop it. Our forwards are coming back into the house and we're closing it down pretty tight. Now we're playing some good hockey and let's keep it rolling tomorrow."

Yeo said this game would be a tough one Wednesday morning, and considering the Wings (22-25-10) were playing off the emotion of their first home game since the death of team owner Mike Ilitch last Friday.

"Right down to the wire, but I think one of our toughest shifts was the last shift," Yeo said. "I love the way that the guys competed and dug in. It wasn't perfect at the end of the night, but there were a lot of things tonight that were really good. There were some moments in the game, some chances on the power plays that we had (0-for-4) where we could have extended the lead that would have made things a little less tense in the end, but all in all, still a good road win." 

The Blues will host the Vancouver Canucks at home Thursday night, and Jake Allen will get the start. Yeo said that was already the plan regardless of Hutton's shutout.

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